13 June 2017

Womanly wonder

This isn't really a review of Wonder Woman since I agree with, and have little to add to, the consensus of reviews out there (if you want real internet reviews, here are a couple from Chris Stuckmann and Andre the Black Nerd).  However, I did have a few observations.

First, I'm astonished that the concept of a major action movie with a female lead is such a novelty as to be widely remarked upon.  Really?  It's been 31 years since Aliens.  If that didn't lay to rest any concern about female action heroes being able to draw audiences, I don't know what would.  But apparently some in the movie business still had their doubts.

They should put those doubts aside, because after just 11 days in theaters the movie has made $444.8 million and is still going strong.  It has also, of course, been widely critically acclaimed (deservedly so) and has even won an award for its trailer.  One thing that struck me is that while star Gal Gadot is certainly attractive, the character is not over-sexualized to the point of absurdity, as these types of female characters sometimes are (though Ripley 31 years ago was even less sexualized).  This may be the result of the fact that the director is also a woman, Patty Jenkins, who gives the character the same dignity that similar male characters get -- although any halfway decent male director should be able to do the same.

Though this movie has aroused much enthusiasm among female fans, there's nothing anti-male about it.  Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) is also a strong and effective character, not diminished or intimidated by acting as an ally to a biologically-superior female.  Of course I personally loved all the Classical Greek references, even if the actual Classical Greek culture was heavily male-dominated.

If the film has been something of a breakthrough for women-centered art, the now-inevitable sequels may break representational ground in another direction.  DC revealed last year that Wonder Woman is bisexual, and Gadot seems cool with that.  The current movie makes no reference to this, but later ones could.  Some viewers might object, I suppose, but as I always say, the world is full of people who disapprove of things; Lebanon and Tunisia have actually banned the current movie because Gadot is Israeli and once served as a combat trainer in the IDF.  I expect a substantial circulation of bootleg DVDs in those places.

It is perhaps small of me to point out a minor error in the film which no one else seems to have noticed, but which really jumped out at me.  Here it is -- can you spot it?
The movie is set in 1918, at the end of the First World War, but the map on the wall in the scene where Wonder Woman attacks Ludendorff clearly shows the outlines of the postwar occupation zones imposed on Germany after the Second World War.  No 1918 map would have shown demarcations that did not exist until 1945.

Of course that's a trivial point.  It's an action movie that's far more than just relentless explosions (one of the best action scenes is a battle of small arms vs. archery on a Themyscira beach) and helpless damsels in distress.  If Hollywood truly harbors neanderthals who doubt that women can handle this kind of material, they surely know better now.  I look forward to future adventures from Gadot and Jenkins.


Blogger Green Eagle said...

I agree entirely with you, but I would like to point out one thing that no one seems to have picked up on. The success of this film with a female lead has led people to not notice that it is, as far as I know, the first action adventure film to have this degree of box office power without relying on 10-25 year old males. This could open the way to (I hope this isn't too much of a contradiction) more adult action adventure films, and bring some new life into what has become a pretty moribund genre.

15 June, 2017 16:51  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Green: Good point. I hope so.

16 June, 2017 07:34  
Anonymous Marc McKenzie said...

@Green Eagle: Well said.

I enjoyed the hell out of WW, and I'm glad to see that it is doing so well. And at a time when we have misogynists in the White House and in Congress threatening to take women's rights back to the 19th--no, hell the 18th--century, it gives me some satisfaction that this move can also be taken as a pushback against people and attitudes that have no place in the 21st century.

One bit of a hilarious note: I read a comment about the film which sneered, "Maybe the people who made Man of Steel should watch this to learn how to make a proper superhero film!". The irony, of course, is that several people who worked on Man of Steel also worked on Wonder Woman, including MOS's director and producer Zack Snyder, who developed the screen story for WW.

(Also, for the record, I loved Man of Steel. But that's just me. :) )

17 June, 2017 14:44  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Marc: In the case of the fundies, it's more like the 18th century BC.

I didn't see Man of Steel (superhero movies generally aren't my thing, unless V for Vendetta and Ghost in the Shell count), but it's always easy for people to carp. Most bad movies are bad because of the script -- if there isn't a good story, the movie can't really be saved, no matter what else is good.

18 June, 2017 11:04  

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